Freedom From Fear
The 5 Freedoms Revisited – An Epilogue (Part 1)
The high burnout and suicide rate in the veterinary profession cannot be our norm, and it doesn’t have to be. While reading Dr. Don DeForge’s article “The Veterinary 5 Freedoms”, I appreciated his inspiration from a speech designed to rally change for “a world attainable in our own time and generation”. Change is possible starting now – today. You summit a mountain one small step at a time. As a profession we need to be asking, “what specifically needs to change to foster a sustainable, thriving profession and what is the first smallest step that I can do today to move towards that?” As I read the Five Freedoms article, many thoughts came to mind about how we can use inspiration from the Five Freedoms to create positive change in vet med starting today. Here’s part 1!
Freedom From Fear
When I think about feeling free, I think about not being held back, restricted, or weighed down from something. Fear is a normal human experience and unavoidable. But in order to unchain myself and to have freedom from fear I needed to change my relationship to it. That was an integral part of my journey recovering from burnout.
One concept that helped me was learning that in the Hebrew language, they have different words for different kinds of fear. "Yirah" is a good fear - the fear you get when you're stepping outside of your comfort zone or into more energy than you're used to. For example, the exhilarated nervous feeling I experienced when I started being seen and speaking out about the changes that need to happen in vet med despite previously being very shy and never wanting to “rock the boat” or draw attention to myself.
In comparison, "pachad" is a more primal terror or imagined fear. For example, the anxiety I used to feel lying awake at night thinking about the worst-case scenarios that could hypothetically happen during the big dog spay I had the next morning. Seeing fear in different ways helped me to respond differently to each type so that they no longer weighed me down and held me back.
By embracing curiosity and a growth mindset, I realized that much of my imposter syndrome and anxiety stemmed from a pachad fear when I imagined scenarios of “failing” that weren’t even reality. By noticing that pattern, I was able to take away its power. It helped me to start training my brain to see my successes instead of fails and to become aware and call out when my inner critic (the negative judgmental voice in my head) was creating hypothetical, unhelpful “movies” in my mind or thoughts that weren’t true.
Learning how to lean into the "yirah" feeling and going after the things that felt scary but exhilarating and empowering led me down a path to a life better than I thought possible. It turns out when I follow that yirah fear, that’s when I feel most fulfilled and alive! I learned anti-anxiety tools so that I can tell my nervous system “it’s okay – I’ve got this” when I step outside of my comfort zone to do things in order to grow.
What’s the first smallest step you can take to achieve freedom from fear? Learn and start using anti-anxiety tools so that fear doesn’t weigh you down. Watch the first talk in the free “Beat The Burnout” series I hosted for the veterinary community: “Anti-Anxiety Tools That Actually Work”. You’ll be empowered with tools to calm your nervous system in the moment (even in the middle of a surgery or talking to a disrespectful client) and learn tips to start taming your inner critic and unhelpful patterns so you can change your relationship with fear.
Freedom Of Speech and Self-expression
Thank goodness for freedom of speech and self-expression and for conversations within the profession from different perspectives about how we can create positive change! We need more of this – including your voice, Reader.
What’s a small doable step? Leave a comment on this post or share this article on social media with your own unique perspective and thoughts. Your voice and opinions matter and we look forward to hearing from you.
Stay tuned for part 2!
Sign up for the “Beat The Burnout” series at www.lifeboost.today/beatburnout
Dr. Amelia is a recovered burnt out vet, integrative health + life coach and change worker, and co-chair of the Veterinary Genesis Initiative (VGI). The VGI is an initiative to improve and strengthen the veterinary profession. If you're passionate about creating positive change in vet med, VGI would love to hear your voice and perspective. Please send an email to email@example.com if you have interest in getting involved or writing an article for the website.
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